Fate of America’s Aircraft Carriers

The Navy announced in July 2014 that it plans to pay International Shipbreaking, a company in Texas, $3 million to rip the vessel apart. According to the Kitsap Sun, the sea service decided it would cost too much to turn it into a museum, and no other countries were interested in buying the 1,073-foot, 61,981-ton vessel.

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Literacy in the USA

children_learning-zbbjrxIt is undeniable that being literate is one of the most important things a person needs to achieve in order to have a normal existence. From everyday things such as reading food labels, medication information, or household bills to more complex tasks such as reading and comprehending books and more difficult texts,  reading enables a person to lead an independent and, hopefully, fulfilling life.

kids_working_togetherThe US Department of Education and National Center for Education Statistics differentiate between three types of literacy, “Prose literacy is the knowledge and skills needed to perform prose tasks (i.e., to search, comprehend, and use information from continuous texts, such as paragraphs from stories); document literacy is the knowledge and skills needed to perform document tasks (i.e., to search, comprehend, and use information from non-continuous texts in various formats, such as bills or prescription labels); and quantitative literacy is the knowledge and skills required to perform quantitative tasks (i.e., to identify and perform computations, either alone or sequentially, using numbers embedded in printed materials).” As such, according to their statistics dating from 2003, 22 percent of adults (those who are 16 or older) in the USA perform below basic in quantitative literacy, 14 percent of adults are below basic in prose literacy, and 12 percent in document literacy. Continue reading Literacy in the USA

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Refugees and Their Plight

refugees 2The United States of America is one the most popular countries in the world for people looking for asylum. According to US Department of State, since 1975 the USA has accepted more than three million refugees from different parts of the world; and, as The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development statistics demonstrates, in 2012 out of total number of 449 420 asylum seekers into OECD countries and Russian Federation, 68 thousand people came to the USA (next three major OECD countries for refugees are Germany (64540), France (54940) and Sweden (43890)). Who can be considered a refugee?

refugees migrantsAccording to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” As such, asylum seekers differ from refugees in their legal status, i.e. he or she can claim to be a refugee, but unless their claim is definitively evaluated by national asylum centers and they are granted official refugee status, an asylum seeker can be sent back to their home country. To further complicate things, in modern times millions of people choose to migrate in order to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families (for example, the so-called economic migrants), while refugees absolutely have to flee their home countries because of the fear of prosecution. As such, refugees and other types of migrants are subjects to different international and national laws. Continue reading Refugees and Their Plight

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The Religion Of Bob Marley, The Rastafarian Movement

Bob Marley Crop 9th Logo1The Rastafarian movement was born in Jamaica in 1930 when news of the crowning of Ras Tafari (Haile Selassie) as King of Ethiopia, attracted the attention of various Jamaicans who had been to some extent influenced by Marcus Garvey.   Haile Selassie is known to be JAH because of his direct descendancy to King Menelik, (son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba) and King David and because of his inherited title, King of Kings, Lord of Lord, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, which identifies him as the living JAH whose coming was foretold in the Bible, Psalm 68.4, Revelation 5:2-5, 19:16, 22:16,

Various persons connected Garvey’s prophecies of the crowning of a black king who would deliver black people from their oppressors, with certain biblical passages that confirmed to them that Selassie was indeed the Messiah.

Interestingly, these persons are said to have reached this conclusion quite independently of each other.

Among the key figures in this birth of the Rastafarian philosophy were Leonard P. Howell, Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert, H. Archibald Dunkley and Robert Hinds. All were ministers, who formed separate groups based on this revelation.

Howell is the man most credited with the initial spreading of the Rastafarian way of life.  He was a well-travelled man and was reported to have fought on African soil and to have command of several African languages.

Howell had stationed himself for a period of time in North America where the social ravages of racism were common practice.  This directed his intent in working for necessary reforms.  He began his ministry in the slums of Western Kingston, Jamaica. Continue reading The Religion Of Bob Marley, The Rastafarian Movement

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Interracial Marriages in the USA


Interracial MarriagesWhile it might seem implausible today, but not until very long ago it was illegal to marry someone from a different race in the United States. Only on June 12, 1967 in the landmark case Loving vs. Virginia, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. As the court stated, “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.” With that ruling, many people were finally free to marry whomever they wanted—no matter their race and ethnic background—with no fear of being legally prosecuted for their actions.

19MIXEDRACE1113Anti-miscegenation laws were adopted in the United States since 1660s—first in Virginia and Maryland and later in all the original thirteen states—to prohibit people from entering into interracial (i.e. between white and non-white people, mostly blacks, but sometimes Native Americans and Asians) marriages, sex, and cohabitation. As a trial judge in Lovings vs. Virginia case asserted, “Almighty God created the races of White, Black, Yellow, Malay, and Red… and He placed them on separate continents…And but for the interference with His arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages…The fact that He separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” As such, the sentiment against interracial marriage ran deep within the American population, especially in the South. For example, in 1958 Gallup polls as many as 96 percent of white Americans were against interracial marriage. However, starting in the 1960s this attitude started to change and today we have a society in which interracial marriages are no longer taboos.

interracial-marriageAccording to 2010 census, almost 15 percent of marriages in the United States were interracial. There are many configurations of interracial marriages in the country, some of which are more prevalent and some are less so. For example, 9.4 percent of whites, 17.1 percent of blacks, 25.7 percent of Hispanics and 27.7 percent of Asian
s married someone outside their race. Some of the combinations are more prevalent while others are rarer (for example, white male/asian or black female are much more prevalent than asian male/black female). In any case, given the melting pot which the United States is made of, it is not surprising that interracial marriages are on the rise.

Aarathi3.jpgInterracial marriage is still a hot topic for many people. Whether you are pro- or against them, there is a good chance that you will encounter different races’ couple in the course of your life. No matter what one’s beliefs are, one needs to be respectful and treat interracial couples no different from others. Today, when the boundaries between ethnicities and races become more and more obsolete, one can envision a future where race and nationality do not play a role at all. In The Time Will Come That Everyone On Earth Will Be A Shade Of “Beautiful Beige”

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Community College: Is It for You?

Howard_Community_College_QuadHigh cost of college education in the USA is a subject of concern for the majority of ordinary people. According to the College Board, an average price for an in-state public college in 2013-2014 was about $ 22,826 and an average cost for private college was about $44,000. Compounded by rising cost of living, troubled economy and unclear job perspectives, college education can become an unattainable dream for many people.

However, there are many reasons for getting a college degree: the main one is that, on average, a four-year college graduate earns $ 800,000 more than a high school graduate by the retirement age. As such, it is certainly better to explore your educational opportunities and maybe consider less expensive options such as community colleges, on-line educational institutions, and such.

Many people believe that the quality of education one receives at a community college is much more inferior to the one at four-year colleges and thus is not worth the effort and time. Also, there are many additional negative stereotypes associates with community colleges such as that only those who could not get into a four-year college resort to them; if you decide to transfer to a four-year college, only few transfers will be allowed; quality of teachers is much worse; and that community colleges provide little benefits career-wise.

615_Harvard_Geneticist_Professor_ReutersHowever, if one approaches the decision to attend community college with due diligence, he or she can certainly be assured that they can present an excellent basis for a lifetime of gainful employment and good earnings. First of all, the cost of attending community college is much less than the one associated with four-year colleges (generally, it is about tenth of the amount). Also, community colleges offer greater flexibility and students can work full-time while taking classes—another huge financial incentive.

Besides, many people who attend community colleges are already living close-by thus saving the cost of living at the dorms, etc., which can be quite expensive in many areas of the country. However, the excitement of living on campus is something many students look forward to; but on the other hand, there are fewer distractions from studying when one lives at home. Continue reading Community College: Is It for You?

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The Business Of Drinking Water

The most pressures substance of life on earth that makes up 94% of our body, and continually needs replenishing is water. Water In many parts of the world are at an all time shortage due to long lasting droughts; but that is not what this article is about.

This story is about the many varieties of manipulated waters, which claim to be the elixir and remedy for a variety of ailments. There is Vitamin-Water, Sparkling Water, Mineral Water, Coral Calcium Water, Detox Footbath, Energized Water, John Ellis Electron Water Machine, Magnetized Water, Penta Water, Pi Water and ASEA to name a few that are out in the market today. I am not recommending these products are how effective they are, it is just acknowledging that these water products do exist in todays market.ASEA_Water_Reviews_-_what_is_ASEA-slide

This months Health Update focus’s on ASEA water. Quoting ASEA “ ASEA is a “life-changing” health aid for everyone. ASEA is trillions of stable, completely balanced Redox Signaling Water Molecules suspended in a pristine saline solution—the same molecules that exist in the cells of the human body. Redox signaling is a function that is central to all life. Signaling molecules are created within every cell in the body. After the age of 12, our cells make fewer and fewer of these molecules. ASEA is the world’s only source for replenishing these molecules.”

In other words, the pure water is allowed to cure, before undergoing a patented process that oxidizes and reduces the saline solution mix into the final product that is ASEA Water.This must be some strong remedy stuff; if they both oxidize it and reduce it before they bottle it?

ASEA; from my understanding, ASEA does increase or add anything to the water they produce; They only reorganize the molecular structure so it is still just water that may provide health befits to select individuals as each persons body is bio-chemically different. What may not work for one person may actually make a difference in another person’s life.

Several long time friends introduce me to ASEA; which one use during a bout with depression after the birth of her first child; which actually happens to many women after they give birth. She is a firm believer that ASEA help her through the trying times and recommends it to anyone that suffers with emotional distress.

People that suffer from depression general turn towards drugs that can lead to dependency that is not something that should be recommended to new mothers especially those who are nursing.

In my opinion a useful water product has to better to fight depression and other aliments in these situation ASEA is far better than drugs that can be passed on to their offspring, harmful to own your health or cause a multitude of problems to users. If that is ASEA and it works for you then so be it.

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Movies and Their Impact on People

the-passion-of-the-christ-movie-poster-2004-1020194251Film industry plays crucial role in today’s economy, society, and culture.  Not only a source of employment and revenue for thousands of people, films are a major form of art, which can inspire, provoke debates and deep reflections, expose societal and other problems, open up new cultural horizons, and lead to future endeavors. Of course, not all movies necessarily become cultural phenomena, but many of them have big impact on their audiences and deserve the acclaim they receive from critics and/or people who come to value them.

Given the diversity of human condition, there are many subject matters, which can serve as a basis for a film. However, one of the riskiest decisions for any movie director is to make a film on a subject which is controversial, ideologically or culturally divisive, or unpopular with general audience. At the same time, such movies, when done right, can truly demonstrate their creators’ talents and instigate a meaningful discussion among moviegoers. Among some of the recent movies, which fall into this category, are such movies as “12 Years a Slave” and “Son of God.”

12-years-a-slave-quadThe movie “12 Years a Slave” has been released in 2013 and received three Academy Awards—Best Picture (Steve McQueen directed), Best Supporting Actress (played by Nyong’o) and Best Adapted Screenplay (screenwriter John Ridley). The movie, which depicts the life of Solomon Northup, a free man from Upstate New York who was abducted and sold into slavery where he spent horrible 12 years, was a huge success and made a lot of money (shot for a budget of about $ 20 million it earned, as of May 2014, over $56 million in USA and about $187 million worldwide). The subject of the movie is definitely a difficult one because it shows, unflinchingly and sometimes cruelly, the malice humans can inflict on one another and the depravity of slavery. However, at the same time it demonstrates the strength of human spirit and perseverance.

“Son of God,” released in 2014 is a movie based on mini-series “The Bible” which aired on History Channel and became quite popular. It was produced by husband and wife team, Mark Burnett and Romy Downey and depicts the life of Jesus Christ. The movie was widely promoted in the USA through church groups and Christian leaders and earned more than $59 million (as of May 2014). Inevitably, it was immediately compared to another Christian movie produced by Mel Gibson “The Passion of the Christ,” which was produced in 2004 and became one of the highest grossing movies in the film industry earning more than $600 million. While both movies are devoted to the same subject, i.e. Jesus Christ, they are very different in their style, message, and focus. While Mel Gibson’s movie concentrates on the last hours of Jesus’ life, “Son of God” covers the whole life of Jesus Christ. Both movies drew their followers and critics; however, most people agree that “The Passion of the Christ,” despite being very graphic and violent in its portrayal of Christ’s death, was a much more powerful and memorable movie.movie-reels

One of the marks of a great film is, certainly, the impact they have on people who have watched them. If the movie makes a person to learn something new, consider previously known issues from a different perspective, or allows one to open up his/her mind to new ideas and concepts— the movie can certainly be considered a success. Undoubtedly, “12 Years as Slave,” “Son of God,” and “The Passion of the Christ” have been such films.

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Excessive Dieting and Exercising

Strict Dieting and Excessive Exercising: How Do They Affect Your Health?

Extream Exercising jwilliamsModern people live in stressful times. We are constantly barraged by new information, connected to our devices such as phones and computers, and have too little time for anything else except our jobs and household chores. Realizing the pressure of everyday lives, many people do their best to stay healthy by eating right, exercising regularly, and avoiding bad habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol. However, some people take their healthy habits too far by exercising excessively, adhering to very restrictive diets, or taking too many vitamins and different supplements. Many well-regarded studies have shown that such behavior, instead of making one healthier, might in fact harm one’s well-being.

The United States is a country with one of the highest obesity rates in the world According to 2013 UN report, it ranks second—after Mexico—with 31.8 percent of population being obese. Although in the last few years the obesity growth rate has slowed a little bit, it is still a very alarming issue. Many obese people suffer from a wide array of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and generally bad health which negatively affect the overall economy of the country (lower productivity, higher health costs, etc). As such, it is a very positive development when a person decides to take control of his/her health and embark on a healthy lifestyle. However, one of the main rules one needs to remember is that everything is good in moderation.

For example, if a person eats a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet, he or she rarely needs to consume additional vitamins or supplements because all essential nutrients are already provided by food. According to Cynthia Sass, MPN, RD if one takes an excessive amount of such popular supplements as omega 3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin C, zinc, calcium, to mention just a few, he or she can seriously harm one’s health.

Man Drinking after ExerciseTo illustrate, high levels of omega 3 fatty acids can lead to weakened immune system, too much vitamin C and calcium can cause kidney stones, excessive zinc can cause many undesired effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lowering of bad cholesterol, and excessive iron can build up in tissues and organs such as heart and liver. Consequently, it is much better to commit to eating healthy combination of vegetables, proteins, and good carbs than risk overloading one’s system with unnecessary, and potentially hazardous, nutrients. Very strict diets also negatively affect peoples’ health by depleting their bodies of essential nutrients.

Another extreme behavior to which people become susceptible when trying to living healthfully is excessive exercising. Some people run every day for many miles, others enroll in such demanding fitness programs as CrossFit without being physically prepared for them, and third spend many hours at the gym. Once again, many researchers maintain that health benefits fall dramatically when person puts his or her heart and cardiovascular system under high pressure during strenuous and prolonged exercising. In fact, there are always stories when people collapse or even die when they run marathons, as was a case in Raleigh, NC when two people have died while running Rock’n’Roll half-marathon on April, 13, 2014. Usually, runners’ deaths are cardio-related, as it was in this tragic case.

While everyone should be mindful of their health and committed to eating well-balanced diets, exercising regularly, and avoiding bad habits—one also needs to remember that everything is good in moderation. – Becky Kospanova

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Non-White Oppression

A Tale of Oppression And Suppression of Non White Americans

This story was inspired by a relative of an African American’s sibling’s plight of racism and injustice at the hands of raciest and oppressive law enforcement in southern sates by fabricated and illegally charging them with crimes they did not commit; which still happens to young men and women of color in America today. This creates a minimum wage work force all across urban areas of America. These tactics actually began during the early nineteen century and continues today.

Black Teen Agers

The main affect of this form of discrimination was and is to document and keep youngster of color Americans, from having the same chance to succeed in life as their young white male and female counter parts, simply by adding there names to the criminal systems for the rest of their life’s, even though they committed no crimes; all in a systematic attempt to control and denying many of them the opportunity to vote in elections and provide a low income work force.

Once they are labeled and wrongfully targeted, they are always looked at as criminals by society and that alone hinders their chance of landing top-level jobs and higher education at upper level Collages and Universities. It also keeps these victims in the lower income bracket. Many of these victims end up choosing a life of crime, drug and alcohol abuse as a result of the stigma of being a criminal that was wrongfully place on them early in life.

This systematic way of targeting people of color especially young men has been a mainstay conspiracy outline originally by the decedents of former slave owners nearly two hundred years ago, mostly in the south as a way to help provide a large pool of low wage workers available to southern landowners, after the civil war and the passing of the emancipation law. This conspiracy also has created the largest prison population of any country in the world, with seventy percent of the inmates being people of color, which again as records show also diminish the voting block for that population in favor of the controlling interest and are generally owned by those billionaire’s decedents of slave owners.

unanameergfCheap labor along with preventing voting rights now days or at the forefront of many legislators actions in congress today according to major media outlets, and is considered to be the driving force behind conservative agendas. Many state’s governments leaders allegedly are accused of gerrymandering senate and congressional districts maps in order to control minority voting by legislators, and is under investigation by the US Justice Department, mainly in the south prompted by the midterm elections of 2012. Several states maps were order to be redrawn by federal courts as a result that election according to Associated Press reports.

The GOP controlled house has refused to even consider voting on raising the minimum wage to $10 as requested by President Obama in order to keep their donors, happy and helps secure cheap labor for the corporations they own or control, while quietly approving bills that allow their donors to build more privet prisons.

In America, the prison system is a multi billion business just to house many of these young people who were unjustly force into a life of crime and drugs by the actions of those who swore to protect all citizens. These citizens were left with few outlets to succeed. Gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts. The main incentive is to hinder people of color, which is also a way of enslaving people of color both young and old and should never be allowed to happen in America.

America was founded on the belief that all men are created equal as written in the constitution; which means everyone, not just those who were elected and vote on establishing unjust laws for their own benefit, or actions that just benefit their billionaire donors that ultimately allows those same billionaires the opportunities to buy elections.

When American politician and law enforcement personal are ultimately brought to justice for breaching the laws of Americans are found guilty of these atrocities, then and only then, can the oppression and suppression of young people of color be eliminated in America, and truly be the Land of The Free.

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Handwriting a Dying Skill?

Is Handwriting Becoming a Dying Skill?

HandwritingFor centuries, the only way to communicate with people at distances or record one’s thoughts and experiences was to put things in writing. Although it might seem that writing had existed as long as humankind itself, it was certainly not the case. The history of writing is a long and fascinating one, starting with primitive drawings on the walls of caves and rocks and gradually developing all around the world in different forms such as pictographic, hieroglyphs, and finally to the earliest known alphabetical systems such as Proto-Sinaitic, Ugaritic, Egyptian, and Phoenician which were dated to about 3500-3000 years ago. Over the time, the materials for writing have changed, the writing instruments have changed, the subject matters have changed, but the enthrallment of people with writing itself has always been constant.

However, with the astonishing progress of technology in recent years, there is one form of writing that seems to be slowly eroding. It is writing by hand. Modern people are very much connected technologically and seem always to be e-mailing, tweeting, texting, instant messaging, etc. to each other. Surely, there is an occasional note or signature handwritten; but it is an undeniable fact that we all write less and less by hand. Is handwriting need to be preserved nowadays? For example, there is much debate regarding the need to teach our children to write in cursive. Many people argue that cursive, writing can be difficult for elementary level children to master and, as a result, might negatively affect their academic success.

Moreover, many school districts in the USA have voted in favor of teaching of keyboard typing skills than cursive writing. While children still write by hand at schools (though most of them print), they rarely write long compositions and mostly fill in blanks with few short sentences. I know this for a fact. My son, who is a seventh-grader and a very good student, almost does not write by hand. He does most of his work on computer (supposedly, this way school saves a lot of paper and trees), and as such he types at terrific speed but his penmanship is quite poor. Frankly, it saddens me.

Handwritten letters, notes, cards always bring so much more pleasure than anything typed. Somehow, knowing that a person took time to write by hand evokes closer feeling to a writer and the things he or she is writing to you. Not only that, but there were studies (quoted in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine article by Joanne Chen), that have shown, that when people write by hand, their hand movements make them remember the written things better and maybe even become smarter and more creative. For example, when one studies a foreign language, he or she will remember new words and language rules much better if they were written by hand (probably because it makes one to concentrate more than when typing).
Handwriting is gradually becoming more and more marginalized in today’s technology-obsessed world. However, it is a form of art which needs to be preserved because it is so human, personal, and expressive. – Becky Kospanova 

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Ex-Wife & Ex-Husband

unnamedEx-Wife & Ex-Husband

Dear Wife:

I’m writing you this letter to tell you that I’m leaving you for good. I’ve been a good man to you for seven years and I have nothing to show
for it. These last two weeks have been hell. Your boss called to tell me that you had quit your job today and that was the last straw. Last week, you came home and didn’t even notice that I had gotten a new haircut, cooked your favorite meal and even wore a brand new pair of silk boxers. You came home and ate in two minutes, and went straight to sleep after watching all of your soaps. You don’t tell me you love me anymore, you don’t want sex anymore or anything. Either you are cheating or don’t love me anymore. Whatever the case is, I’m gone.

Your Ex-Husband

P.S. Don’t try to find me. Your SISTER and I are moving away to West Virginia together! Have a great life!

Dear Ex-Husband:

Nothing has made my day more than receiving your letter. It’s true that You and I have been married for seven years, although a good man is a
far cry from what you’ve been. I watch my soaps so much because they drown out your constant whining and griping. Too bad that doesn’t work.
I did notice when you got a hair cut last week. The first thing that came to mind was “You look just like a girl!” but my mother raised me not to say anything if you can’t say anything nice. And when you cooked my favorite meal, you must have gotten me confused with MY SISTER, because I stopped eating pork seven years ago. I turned away from you when you had those new silk boxers on because the price tag was still on them. I prayed that it was a coincidence that my sister had just borrowed fifty dollars from me that morning … and your silk boxers were $49.99. After all of this, I still loved you and felt that we could work it out. So when I discovered that I had hit the lotto for ten million dollars, I quit my job and bought us two tickets to Jamaica. But when I got home you were gone. Everything happens for a reason, I guess. I hope you have the fulfilling life you always wanted. My lawyer said that with the letter you wrote, you won’t get a dime from me. So take care.
Signed

Rich as Hell and Free!

P.S. I don’t know if I ever told you this but Carla, my sister, was born Carl. I hope that’s not a problem!

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2014: The Year of Women in Politics?

Women in PoliticsOn November 4, 2014, midterm elections will be held in the United States where all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives; 33 out of 100 seats in the United States Senate (plus three more seats up for special election); as well as 38 state and territorial governorships and 46 state legislatures will be contested. The main question for most people is whether the Democrats will be able to keep their majority in the Senate because it would determine the policies of American government to a great extent in a foreseeable future. However, there is another exciting development related to it because the upcoming elections present an unprecedented opportunity for more women than ever to rise to political power.

Many political analysts predict that there is a real chance to change the traditionally male-dominated American political landscape to one where more women will have a real chance to impact the country’s politics. It is a well-known, albeit disconcerting, fact that although American women represent more than 51 percent of voting public, they still hold only about 20 percent of political positions. However, some influential political positions are contested by women this year, which can make a difference on how the political process will proceed in the country.

For example, for the first time in the history of West Virginia, there are two female contenders for a Congress seat this year: Natalie Tennant (D) versus Shelley Moore Capito (R) (Capito is predicted to be a winner at the moment). In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) is running for a Congress seat against Mitch McConnell (R), although she is facing an uphill battle in a predominantly Republican state. Terri Lynn Land, Former Secretary of State in Michigan, is one of those who holds a lot of hope for a Republican party to win the position after Carl Levin had retired. And, of course, there are media favorites such as Susana Martinez, New Mexico’s first female governor who is surely a force to be watched; Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, who became popular after airing her views at such shows as Jon Stewart; and Mia Love, who potentially can become the first black female Republican in Congress and the first person of color to represent Utah. There are many women candidates running for Governor of states, like Wendy Davis (D) Texas, across the US as well which is sure to change the political landscape.

Why women can make better politicians? Although it may be politically incorrect to say so, but women are more flexible, better attuned to other person’s view, and are more willing to compromise. If one considers low poll rates for an American government at the moment, women can provide new hope for people. The ability of women politicians to achieve results was well demonstrated during the shutdown of the American government. Out of fourteen senators of the bipartisan committee which worked out the compromise, six were women (which is very impressive considering the number of women there overall), and they delivered. The shutdown was discussed, debated, and ultimately resolved. Such is a power of women: discuss, listen, consider, compromise and deliver. – Becky Kospanova

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Child Free Lifestyle on the Rise

To Have or Not to Have: Childfree Lifestyle is on the Rise

bbbbbOne of the most frequent questions any married couple receives is, “Do you have kids?” and if the answer is negative, the inevitable follows, “So, when are planning to start having kids?” It is not surprising, of course. For centuries, marriage and parenthood were practically synonymous and—provided a couple did not have fertility issues—it was taken for granted that at some point they would have children. However, nowadays more and more people make a conscious decision not to have any children. For example, Pew Research Center found out that the value of having children in order to have a fulfilling relationship is gradually declining over years. To illustrate, 65% of people in 1990 agreed that children were important to relationship, but in 2007 only 41% did so. Consequently, nowadays every one out of five women of childbearing age does not have a child compared to one out of ten in 1970s (US Census Bureau).

What are the main reasons which make capable and, most of the times, financially secure couples forego the notion of parenthood? As with any human behavior, there is a plentitude of explanations. Sometimes, there is a relatively simple one such as unwillingness to pass genetic diseases. Modern level of medical science enables us to predict whether our children will inherit some diseases which are incurable; therefore, people can make a responsible decision not to risk to have a child with a potentially devastating disease.

Still, the majority of people who decide not to have children in committed relationships are perfectly healthy and driven by other considerations. Some of them are: concern about overpopulation; unwillingness to bring a child into a world where there are so many political, environmental, and societal problems; taking care of elderly or sick parents or other relatives which does not leave much time for children; financial constraints; unwillingness to jeopardize their careers; fear of pressure childcare might take on a relationship with a significant other; lack of patience when it comes to children; having bad childhoods and consequent fear of being inadequate parents themselves; unwillingness to pass on freedom childlessness allows and such.

aaaaThere is a certain stigma many people, especially women, carry if they decide to not have a child. They are often considered to be selfish and self-centered when compared to their counterparts with children. However, numerous studies have shown that while conventional wisdom dictates that children bring happiness to parents, things might be in fact different. Quite often, people without children report better satisfaction with the quality of their lives than people with children. For example, they have more money because childrearing is expensive; they are able to do many things such as traveling, working more hours, having time to pursue their hobbies and volunteering; they are able to focus on their partners more and, subsequently, have better relationships; and they are generally less stressed than people with children.

In the end, it is a very personal decision to have or not to have a child. While children, undeniably, bring a lot to a person’s life, some are just better without them. Given the current rate of population growth in the world, we are not in any danger of extinction, and as such we should be more tolerant and accepting of those who decide to be childfree. – Becky Kospanova

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Cohabitation vs. Marriage

Cohabitation vs. Marriage: What Is Your Choice?

Couples Living Togeather 3Just a few decades ago it was socially and culturally unacceptable, or at least frowned upon, for couples to live together without being officially married. However, nowadays it is not only a common occurrence, but the trend is actually on the rise. For example, there were about half a million unmarried couples living together in 1960, by 2000 there were about 4.75 million unmarried couples, and by 2013 the number of such unions grew to a little bit over an eight million (which is an astonishing 1500 percent increase over the last half a century). What are the reasons for such a change and what impact does it have on a society as a whole?

One of the biggest reasons for such a change was the shift in cultural and societal norms in the country, starting with sexual revolution and the introduction of birth control pill. People felt liberated and the previously rigid norms of societal conduct became more fluid. Consequently, more and more couples felt that it was perfectly acceptable, and even advantageous, to cohabit, i.e. to share household and have intimate relationship without being officially married. For example, according to National Marriage Project report from 2002, “In recent representative national surveys nearly 66% of high school senior boys and 61% of the girls indicated that they “agreed” or “mostly agreed” with the statement “it is usually a good idea for a couple to live together before getting married in order to find out whether they really get along.” Thus, not only society as a whole became more open to the idea of cohabitation, but the belief that cohabitation is actually a more progressive form of family life which allows the couples to make sure that they are truly compatible before getting married became firmly entrenched.

Couples Living Togeather 2However, the evidence shows otherwise. According to National Marriage Project, couples which cohabitate report less satisfaction with the quality of shared life than their married counterparts; they break up more often and more easily; if they eventually get married, the rate of divorce among those who cohabitated previously to getting married is 46 percent higher than among those who did not cohabitate before the marriage; and it has an adverse effect on children. Why does it happen? Some researchers have suggested that people who decide to cohabitate rather than marry may already have lower commitment levels to their partners and, therefore, are more likely the end their relationship if something does not go the way they want. It holds especially true for those who cohabitate multiple times because they become more “habituated” to the idea of abandoning the relationship at the sight of trouble. In contrast, married couples are usually committed to long-term relationships and are decidedly more willing to find solutions to their problems such as improving their communication, seeking counsel, etc. Also, it has been suggested that when people choose to cohabitate, they do not apply the same criteria to their partners which they would have applied if they were choosing a marriage partner. Without a clear long-term commitment, people often get involved with “good-enough” partners, thus further diminishing the perspective of long-term and stable relationship.

Does it mean that cohabitation is a bad idea? Certainly not when approached with a right attitude and realistic expectations. The research has shown that when a couple decides to cohabit for a short period of time as a step to marriage, the rate of divorce is not higher than among those who did not cohabit. Of course, the idea that the cohabitation will surely lead to marriage needs to be clearly understood, articulated, and accepted by both involved parties.  – Becky Kospanova

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